economy from the 1600s to the first third of the 1900s depended on two
primary sources--agriculture learned from the pueblo peoples and livestock
such as sheep, goats, and horses obtained initially from the Spaniards.
Because the San Juan River was one of the few reliable sources of water
in Navajo territory, during the summer months many Dine planted fields
of corn, beans, and squash on its floodplains or tributaries and pastured
their sheep in the mountains. Winter camps were usually at lower elevations
where wood, water, and protection from cold winds were available. Hunting
and gathering occurred in a variety of ecological zones according to
the location of the foodstuffs being sought.
and Mexicans occasionally pursued Navajos into the northern part of
their territory, but it was not until the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
at the end of the Mexican War in 1848 that Anglo-Americans were prompted
to take action against Navajo raiders. The Mormon colonies of southwestern
Utah and the settlers of New Mexico and Arizona reacted against the
Navajo by sending military expeditions to halt the threat. Kit Carson and Ute Indian Agent Alfred Pfeiffer encouraged the antagonism already
felt by the Utes against their Navajo neighbors. Although the military
launched a number of campaigns, it was the continuous pressure of Native
American and New Mexican allies that finally caused the massive surrender
of an estimated two-thirds of the Navajo population, 8,000 of whom went
on the Long Walk before finally being incarcerated at Fort Sumner, New
who did not surrender hid in the canyons and mountains to avoid detection.
In Utah, men like Hashkeneinii and Kaayelii fled from the Utes and settled
at Navajo Mountain and the Bears Ears, two regions where Navajos lived
peacefully with the Paiutes. There the Navajos expanded their flocks
and land holdings and awaited the release of their relatives from captivity.